By Andrea Paldy
Three Village school board members received mostly good news last week as they learned that student performance remains steady, district students continue to excel on Regents exams and the graduation rate holds at 99 percent.
Enrollment in Three Village schools, however, continues to decline and the opt-out rate for the contentious state standardized tests continues to be high.
That was the gist of the report given by Kevin Scanlon, assistant superintendent of educational services, at the Sept. 28 board of education meeting.
Scanlon reviewed state assessment and Regents scores, as well as graduation statistics from the 2015-16 school year.
He told board members that the district’s current enrollment is 6,271, down 3 percent from this time last year. The incoming kindergarten class numbers 339 students, compared to the junior class, which has 644 students and is the district’s largest.
Despite having fewer students, the district has nine additional teachers, enabling administrators to add electives and decrease study halls at the secondary level and reduce class sizes in all grades, especially in the elementary schools, Scanlon said.
When it came to the controversial state standardized tests administered to students in grades 3 through 8, the opt-out rate soared last spring, Scanlon reported. He said that the scores for English Language Arts and math only reflect about a third of the eligible student body and are not particularly useful to the district. Teachers’ assessments, as well as the district’s own screenings, have been more effective, he said.
Scanlon added that 66 percent of eligible Three Village students opted out of the ELA last spring. This is up from 58 percent the previous year. Math opt-outs also increased from 57 percent in the previous year to 70 percent in 2016. These numbers are higher than the 21 percent state average reported by the State Education Department.
Student performance remains steady, district students continue to excel on Regents exams and the graduation rate holds at 99 percent
The district’s proficiency rates surpassed the average rates for Nassau and Suffolk counties, as well as for New York State, Scanlon said. Proficiency rates went up statewide by 6.6 points to 37.9 percent for ELA and one point to 39.1 percent for math.
For Three Village, the ELA proficiency in grades three through eight ranged from 57 percent to 78 percent, while math proficiency — excluding eighth grade math — ranged from 62 percent to 87 percent.
Eighth grade math scores showed only 21 percent proficiency because only a small portion of eighth graders were tested, Scanlon said. A number of the district’s eighth graders take Algebra, and therefore take the Algebra Regents exam instead of the state math assessment, he explained. The rate of passing for the Common Core Algebra Regents exam was 96 percent, with 75 percent of the students achieving mastery — a score of 85 percent or higher.
When compared to scores in nearby districts — Commack, Half Hollow Hills, Harborfields, Hauppauge, Northport, Port Jefferson and Smithtown — Three Village ranked either first or second in proficiency for the ELA, and it ranked first or second in math for grades 3 through 6. It ranked fourth for grade 7 and fifth for grade 8.
District students continued to excel on Regents exams. Students who took the first-ever Common Core ELA Regents exam passed at a rate of 97 percent, with 90 percent also achieving mastery. The rates of passage for social studies and most sciences were in the 90s, with high rates of mastery. Physics had an 89 percent rate of passage. Most math Regents pass rates were in the high 80s, except for Common Core Algebra II, which was 77 percent.
Three Village students also performed well on the SATs, scoring above the state average in both the math and the critical reading sections.
Continuing the trend from the year before, the class of 2016 had a 99 percent graduation rate and 95 percent college acceptance rate. Last year’s graduating class boasted the highest number of Advanced Placement scholars since the district started tracking in 1999, Scanlon reported. Seventy-six percent of 2016 graduates went on to four-year colleges, and 20 percent went to two-year colleges.